Montreal

Saudi man being held in Quebec will be deported today, judge rules

His lawyers have sent a request to the United Nations to intervene on his behalf, and say they should have a decision on his case by this morning.

Judge Roger Lafrenière​ said that the man's fears of persecution were unsubstantiated

A Federal Court judge has ruled that a Saudi man being detained in the Laval immigration holding centre didn't prove he'd be in danger if he returns to his country. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

UPDATE: The United Nations have now intervened and asked that Ottawa halt Omar's deportation. Read more here.


A Federal Court judge has ​ruled that a Saudi Arabian man being held at an immigration holding centre in Laval, Que., will be deported as planned on Wednesday.

The man, Omar, tried to get his removal stayed but lost his appeal.

CBC News is withholding his real name due to his concern for the safety of family members who are still in Saudi Arabia.

In his written judgment, Judge Roger Lafrenière said Omar didn't provide any documentation to back up his claim that he would be in danger should he return to his home country.

Omar told CBC over the phone from the detention centre that he was near losing hope following the decision.

"My concern is my kids. Their mom is depressed because of the circumstance she went through," he said, sounding distraught. "Now she will be alone with two kids."

Omar came to Canada by way of Roxham Road this spring with his wife and two sons.

They all filed asylum claims, but his was rejected outright because he had withdrawn a previous claim.

Withdrawing first claim

Omar told CBC that he applied for asylum the first time due to concerns for his safety in Saudi Arabia, but had to return abruptly when his wife was arrested and detained for three days.

But in order to do so, he had to withdraw his asylum claim so he could get his passport back.

His plan was to eventually return to Canada with his family and file an asylum claim together, but that proved impossible.

"When a refugee claimant withdraws their refugee claim at the [Immigration and Refugee Board], they are counselled as to the consequences of this action, including but not limited to the fact that the person can never make another refugee claim in Canada," Lafrenière wrote.

Omar said he fears retribution, including torture and execution, for fleeing Saudi Arabia in the first place and cited previous run-ins with the state intelligence agency.

On top of his personal security issues, Omar is a Shia Muslim, the minority in Saudi Arabia. He is from the Qatif region of the country, where Saudi forces have been cracking down on the Shia minority.

Omar has been detained in Laval since July 26 because authorities believe he is considered a flight risk.

Documents from the CBSA, obtained by CBC News, say that Omar did not seem like someone who is genuinely afraid for his safety in Saudi Arabia because he chose to return of his own volition before.

"None of [the] client's claims of the torture and persecution he allegedly experienced in Saudi Arabia are substantiated in any way," wrote Lafrenière​ in the seven-page decision.

The last hope

Omar's team of lawyers have sent a request to the United Nations to intervene on his behalf.

One of the lawyers, Stéphanie Valois, said this is the last avenue they can pursue now that Canada has decided to deport him Wednesday morning.

"It's the last hope," she said.

Valois said they have been in touch with officials from the UN in Geneva.

"The United Nations can ask Canada to suspend the deportation until they are able to look at the file and Canada normally respects these decisions." The final say, however, remains with Ottawa.

Canadian Border Services Agency told CBC News that once individuals have gone through all legal avenues they're expected to leave or will be removed.

Flights between Canada and Saudi Arabia will be suspended as of next week, as part of an ongoing foreign relations spat.

With files from CBC's Matt D'Amours and Jaela Bernstien